A TAP and A TOUCH by Uche Anyanwagu

Precisely three weeks ago, I had a tap on my back shortly after a Church service in London. As I turned to behold at whose behest, I saw an elderly lady on a wheel chair.
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Her words were simple, straight and shocking – “I bụ onye Igbo?” (Are you Igbo?)
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I stared at her with my mouth agape, not sure if she was the one who asked. I felt I had some auditory hallucination but I managed to reluctantly nod in affirmation.
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She gave a toothy smile and probed further – “Ebe n’ala Igbo ka ị sị?” (which part of Igbo land are you from?)
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I told her in shock. She smiled again and said: “M ruru ọrụ na Steeti gị for more than 35 years” (loosely translated, “I worked in your State for more than 35 years)
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As she wanted to tell about herself and her works, my mind quickly went down the memory lane. With every goosebumps my entire body could hold, I asked her: “I bụ Nkechi Rosalind Colwell?”
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She nodded but this time in tears. I rushed and knelt down before her and hugged her in tears.
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Angels come in human forms and I was so sure I just met one.
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NKECHI ROSALIND COLEWELL came to Uzuakoli in Abia State as a young nurse and served in the Leper Colony there.
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She was touched by our lackadaisical attitude towards mental health. She couldn’t stand seeing our mentally-challenged siblings roaming the streets even for simple curable ones.
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She opened a Home for the Mentally ill at Amaudo, Itumbauzo and went round the whole of Abia State, picking up and admitting our siblings to this home.
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They got medical care, learnt a skill and some were rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society.
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Nkechi left the comfort of her home in United Kingdom and dedicated her entire life serving the most deprived in forgotten corners of our homeland.
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As her sister later told me, “She is Nigerian and hardly identifies as British. She still eats your food and desires to return home back to you someday…”
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Her fluency in Igbo language thrilled us all. For almost an hour we spoke, even with my family, we did in Igbo.
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She was given the name NKECHI by Late Pa Herbert Osoka. The community she served also gave her a chieftaincy title, while she was knighted by the Methodist Church.
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Unfortunately, NKECHI suffered a massive stroke attack at Itumbauzo which left her partially paralysed and confined to wheelchair.
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She had to go back to United Kingdom, even against her personal desire (unlike our President) due to the poor state of our healthcare.
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People like NKECHI COLEWELL deserve sainthood.
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In a country where national honours are bestowed on undeserving politicians and highest-bidding business men, NKECHI’s name can be easily forgotten.
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In a State where selective amnesia rules her political class, NKECHI won’t be found fit for the “Enyi (Elephant) Abia” state honours and their likes.
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I thanked NKECHI for her service to an ungrateful people like us. I told her that her breed is rare, and when the roll will be called, I believe that she will be counted as the Righteous Among The Nations.
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Thank you, Ms NKECHI COLEWELL

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